Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota and presidential hopeful, told California Republicans on Saturday that it is possible to elect a conservative candidate in a state often deemed too liberal and overlooked by most campaigners.
Pawlenty spoke to about 250 supporters at the California Republican Convention, about half the number that attended Newt Gingrich’s speech earlier in the day.
“If I can be a conservative governor in Minnesota, we can do it anywhere,” he said, noting that Minnesota has elected liberal politicians such as Al Franken and Walter Mondale.
He told Californians that they live in the most entrepreneurial and innovative state in the country, and they must fight to keep it that way, arguing that only lower taxes and less government intervention will stimulate the economy.
Pawlenty withdrew his presidential bid last summer after a disappointing Ames Straw Poll taken by Iowa Republicans. He subsequently endorsed Mitt Romney, who along with friends, family and staff donated $66,000 to pay down Pawlenty’s campaign debts.
“One of the questions you should ask of your candidate is ‘have they actually run something?’” He praised Romney as the only presidential candidate with business experience who has his “head, heart and mouth connected.”
He believes Romney is the only candidate capable of rallying Republicans to defeat President Barack Obama.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who also spoke at the convention, believes President Obama’s policies may swing even more to the left if he wins a second term.
“Every liberal pipe dream the president has had, he’s done knowing he would have to be reelected,” Priebus said. “Imagine what the president would do if he didn’t have to face reelection.”
Priebus said he is also worried about the country’s escalating debt, and China’s influence over US economic prosperity.
“We have to come together as a unified party. Our stimulus plan is to fire Barack Obama and save America once and for all,” he said.